Skip to content


Associated Transport Co. Vs. V. Hanumantha Rao and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1970)IILLJ167AP
AppellantAssociated Transport Co.
RespondentV. Hanumantha Rao and anr.
Excerpt:
.....well but that company's name was deleted by the order of the commissioner on the ground that the commissioner had no jurisdiction to pass any order against the insurance company. two things must be satisfied in order to attract sub-clause (2) of section 19. the question must be one required to be settled, decided or dealt with under the act by the commissioner or it should be one for enforcement of the liability incurred under the act. nowhere in the act do we find any provisions expressly or by necessary implication giving power to decide questions covered by section 13. on the other hand in section 30, which gives a right of appeal, though an appeal is provided against an order allowing or disallowing a claim for the amount of indemnity, it is confined to orders under section 12(2)...........section 30, which gives a right of appeal, though an appeal is provided against an order allowing or disallowing a claim for the amount of indemnity, it is confined to orders under section 12(2). if it was contemplated that the commissioner should be given power under section 13 to settle the disputes arising thereunder an appeal would have been provided for that as well. this is a significant point which supports the theory that while s. 13 gives a right, no jurisdiction is conferred on the commissioner to settle or enforce the same. in these circumstances, the remedy which was resorted to by v. hanumantha rao is misconceived. the commissioner under the workmen's compensation act had no jurisdiction to decide the question between v. hanumantha rao and a third party. the order passed.....
Judgment:

Kumarayya, J.

1. The C.M.A. is directed against the order of the Commissioner of Workmen's Compensation directing the Associated Transport Company to deposit a sum of Rs. 2,130 within one month from the date of the order. One Durgamma who was said to be an employee of V. Hanumantha Rao died on 2nd December, 1964, in an accident by a lorry A.P.G. No. 5478, driven by one Maqbool Ahmed, an employee of the Associated Transport Company. The said lorry was insured with Ruby General Insurance Company Limited. As a result of the accident which ended in loss of life of Durgamma, her husband filed a petition against P. Hanumantha Rao under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Therein the respondent seems to have agreed to pay the amount claimed which was Rs. 2,100. An order was passed accordingly. Sometime after the order, V. Hanumantha Rao filed a petition claiming his right to be indemnified by Associated Transport Company, Hyderabad. He had impleaded Ruby General Insurance Company as well but that company's name was deleted by the order of the Commissioner on the ground that the Commissioner had no jurisdiction to pass any order against the Insurance Company. The Commissioner however held that under Section 13 he had jurisdiction to decide the liability of the Associated Transport Corporation. On the evidence adduced he came to the conclusion that the driver of the lorry lost control of the vehicle and knocked down Durgamma while she was on the foot-path as a result of which she died. He directed payment of the amount of compensation which V. Hanumantha Rao was directed to pay to the husband of the deceased plus the costs of the proceedings which were determined at Rs. 30. As against this order the Associated Transport Corporation has come up in appeal.

2. Several points have been raised in this appeal. It was alleged that the deceased was not a work-woman within the meaning of Section 2(n) of the Workmen's Compensation Act because her employment was of a casual nature and was otherwise than for the purposes of the employer's trade or business, viz., for the construction of the building of the employer himself. It was also alleged that the petitioner has no right as he has not deposited the compensation amount ordered by the Commissioner as contemplated by Section 13. Further the Commissioner had no jurisdiction to take any action against the appellant herein for Section 13 is only declarative of the right. It does not prescribe any special remedy or forum for enforcement of such right. The Commissioner is not vested with any power in this behalf by the statute which created this right. The only course left to Hanumantha Rao was to enforce his right by way of suit and not by way of an application to the Commissioner. It is urged that the remedy resorted to was wholly misconceived. As I think the last argument is not without force and impinges on the very jurisdiction of the Commissioner, I propose to deal with it first. It is obvious that if this point be decided in favour of the appellant it will be unnecessary to deal with other points. I have therefore to notice the relevant provisions in this Act to start with.

3. Section 19 of the Workmen's Compensation Act reads thus:

Reference to Commissioner.-(1) If any question arises in any proceedings under this Act as to the liability of any person to pay compensation (including any question as to whether a person injured is or is not a workman) or as to the amount or duration of compensation (including any question as to the nature or extent of disablement) the question shall, in default of agreement, be settled by a Commissioner.

(2) No Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under this Act required to be settled, decided or dealt with by a Commissioner or to enforce any liability incurred under this Act.

It is manifest that the said provision by barring the jurisdiction of the civil court as provided in Sub-clause (2) confers on the Commissioner exclusive jurisdiction on matters required to be settled, decided or dealt with under this Act by him and also to enforce any liability incurred under the Act. Two things must be satisfied in order to attract Sub-clause (2) of Section 19. The question must be one required to be settled, decided or dealt with under the Act by the Commissioner or it should be one for enforcement of the liability incurred under the Act. The liability will be incurred under the Act when the matter in dispute has been settled or decided by the Commissioner. It is in this meaning that the word 'incurred' has been used. That is obvious from the context. If there was merely conferment of a right and no forum was determined by the Act to decide or settle the dispute with regard to that right, no question of established liability or enforcement thereof can arise. That is also what has been held in Trustees of the Port of Madras v. Bombay Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. 1966 29 F.J.R. 328. I respectfully agree with the dictum in the said decision. No tribunal of limited jurisdiction can arrogate to itself the duties or powers which are not conferred on it expressly or by necessary implication by the statute under which it is created. The question is whether the powers claimed here are conferred by the statute under any express provision of law. The preamble of t he Act shows that it is an Act which is intended to provide for the payment of compensation by certain classes of employers to their workmen for injury by accident. Section 3 of the Act declares the liability of employer to pay in accordance with the Act compensation for any personal injury caused to his workman by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment. Indisputably, the Associated Transport Corporation was not the employer of Durgamma. Then Section 12 is the further provision in the Act which provides for the liability on others for compensation amount by way of indemnity. It reads thus:

Where any person in the course of or for the purpose of his trade or business contracts with any other person for the execution by or under the contractor of the whole or any part of any work which is ordinarily part of the trade or business of the principal, the principal shall be liable to pay to any workman employed in the execution of the work any compensation which he would have been liable to pay if that workman had been immediately employed by him; and where compensation is claimed from the principal, this Act shall apply as if references to the principal were substituted for references to the employer except that the amount of compensation shall be calculated with reference to the wages of the workman under the employer by whom he is immediately employed.

(2) Where the principal is liable to pay compensation under this section, he shall be entitled to be indemnified by the contractor, or any other person from whom the workman could have recovered compensation and where a contractor who is himself a principal is liable to pay compensation or to indemnify a principal under this section he shall be entitled to be indemnified by any person standing to him in the relation of contractor from whom the workman could have recovered compensation, and all questions as to the right to and the amount of any such indemnity shall, in default of agreement, be settled by the Commissioner.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing a workman from recovering compensation from the contractor instead of the principal.

(4) This section shall not apply in any case where the accident occurred elsewhere than on, in or about the premises on which the principal has undertaken, or usually undertakes, as the case may be, to execute the work or which are otherwise under his control or management.

3. Thus the workman is given a right to proceed against his immediate employer or his principal. In case the principal is made liable to pay compensation, he is entitled to be indemnified by the contractor who is the immediate employer and in the same way the right is given to the contractor also to be indemnified by the principal. The section does not simply declare the right but provides further that all questions as to the right to and the amount of any such indemnity shall, in default of agreement, be settled by the Commissioner. It is significant that there is no provision made in this section with regard to any third person other than the employer of his principal. Section 13 however gives some right to the employer against a stranger, It reads thus:

13. Remedies of employer against stranger.-Where a workman has recovered compensation in respect of any injury caused under circumstances creating a legal liability of tome person other than the person by whom the compensation was paid to pay damages in respect thereof, the person by whom the compensation was paid and any person who has been called on to pay an indemnity under Section 12 shall be entitled to be indemnified by the person so liable to pay damages as aforesaid.

This section gives right to the employer to be indemnified by the person who was responsible for the accident which caused the injury or death and as a result of which a legal liability was attached to him to pay damages, There can be no doubt that V. Hanumantha Rao was entitled to be indemnified by reason of. Section 13 by the Associated Transport Corporation Ltd., to the extent of the compensation amount that was paid by way of damages in respect of the injury or death caused by the lorry belonging to the Associated Transport Corporation Ltd. in case he established the circumstances creating a legal liability on it. But the question is whether the Commissioner had power to decide the question relating to this right and enforce the liability of the Associated Transport Corporation Ltd.

4. While Section 12 had laid down in clear terms that all questions as to the right to and the amount of any such indemnity shall in default of agreement be settled by the Commissioner, we search in vain for any such provision in Section 13. Section 13 gives right to the person who has paid compensation or who was called on to pay such amount by way of indemnity under Section 12. In other words, it gives right to both persons, who paid the compensation to the workman and also the person who was called upon to pay indemnity under Section 12. It is true even apart from this provision the employer could have sued the Associated Transport Corporation or its driver for the tortious act. In that case he would have got relief only on proof of tort and reasonableness of the claim as in an action in tort. Several pleas would have been open to the corporation or its driver in such an action which have to be necessarily inquired into and decided. The right under Section 13 besides is a right limited to the compensation amount if the person was legally liable. Even this right limited to compensation amount can accrue on certain conditions being fulfilled. The pre-essential requisites are: firstly that the compensation amount should have been recovered by the workman and secondly the said compensation should be in respect of an injury caused under circumstances creating a legal liability of the person other than the person who had paid the compensation. Apart from the fact that the very question whether the deceased person was within the definition of workman is in dispute, it is not also a common ground that the amount directed has been deposited or paid. Above all, in the absence of any power being given to the Commissioner as under Section 12(2) could it be said that the Commissioner has jurisdiction to settle or enforce liability? Being a tribunal of limited jurisdiction created under the Act, unless there was a provision explicit or something necessarily implicit therein giving power to it to settle such disputes it can have no power. As we have seen there is no such context in Section 13 as we find in Section 12(2) for enforcing the right by the Commissioner. It is, no doubt, argued that the last words 'as aforesaid' used in Section 13 must be deemed to have incorporated the provisions of Section 12(2) therein, so far as the remedy also was concerned. It is not possible to construe this section to mean that it has included Section 12 also in it. The jurisdiction under Section 12(2) cannot possibly extend to matters covered by Section 13. If Section 12(2) was intended to cover the cases coming within Section 13, there was no necessity for providing a separate provision. If the remedy prescribed under Section 12 was to be applicable to enforce the right given under Section 13 it should have been specifically stated so. Nowhere in the Act do we find any provisions expressly or by necessary implication giving power to decide questions covered by Section 13. On the other hand in Section 30, which gives a right of appeal, though an appeal is provided against an order allowing or disallowing a claim for the amount of indemnity, it is confined to orders under Section 12(2). If it was contemplated that the Commissioner should be given power under Section 13 to settle the disputes arising thereunder an appeal would have been provided for that as well. This is a significant point which supports the theory that while S. 13 gives a right, no jurisdiction is conferred on the Commissioner to settle or enforce the same. In these circumstances, the remedy which was resorted to by V. Hanumantha Rao is misconceived. The Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act had no jurisdiction to decide the question between V. Hanumantha Rao and a third party. The order passed is, therefore, without jurisdiction. In these circumstances, it is unnecessary to deal with the other points raised.

5. The appeal is, therefore, allowed and the order of the Commissioner is set aside. In the circumstances of the case, there will be no order at to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //